Canagarajah’s Discussion on Translingualism Extended: Predraft on Forthcoming Publication

A month ago, when we first published Part I and II of our interview with Suresh Canagarajah, we noticed that—as it had occurred with other posts—many productive conversations and discussions emerged out of these two video clips. We were quite happy about this since our Social Media Committee at the Transnational SIG hopes to foment critical and engaging conversations about transnationalism and language plurality as relating to writing pedagogy. However, we also noticed that some of you requested more information and clarifications on the arguments shared in Canagarajah’s interview, specifically regarding his view on the relationship between translingualism and L1 and L2 studies (Part II of the interview). We are aware of the current discussions—and to some extent debates—in our field regarding these topics and people’s general curiosity about multilingualism and how it may best be addressed in the writing classroom. Questions such as: “What are the benefits or problems in treating translingualism and L1 and L2 as separate?”; “How does translingualism as an umbrella term problematize writing difference?”; “How have various disciplines related to language, writing, and pedagogy responded to students’ diverse linguistic and writing practices?”; “How can we learn from conversations in fields outside of Rhetoric and Composition, and how can our field contribute to their conversations?” were a few that emerged.

Given the public’s desire for a more in-depth discussion on these questions and the importance of the topic in our field, we—the Social Media Committee—felt the need to extend our conversation on Canagarajah’s interview. Yet, we understand that answering such questions requires time and space, and should be something we can reckon with in our own studies. Therefore, with the kind permission of Dr. Canagarajah, we are sharing with you all a pre-publication draft that will appear in the Applied Linguistics Review in December of 2015. This draft includes the citation information, and can be cited in your publications if the need arises. However, we also hope to see conversations grow out of this opportunity for follow-up. We encourage all of you to please comment on our blog and Facebook group. Sharing these conversations in these spaces allow all scholars following us both in the US and outside a perspective on how we, as writing scholars and educators, resolve these issues.

In this article, Canagarajah persuasively makes the case for reconsidering the idea of enumerating and separating bi/multilingual users’ linguistic repertoires. He further shows that “native speaker”-based language ideologies are detrimental in the way in which they prescribe students’ educational paths and categorization. Moreover he provides a thorough consideration for how translingualism—as a practice—is now explored in several disciplinary fields and geographical contexts in language studies. Canagarajah goes on to argue that all disciplinary groups in writing may share the theoretical assumptions relating to translingual practice while focusing on the student groups they are most interested in. While they will develop pedagogies that are unique to their student groups, they can be consistent with the theoretical orientation to translingual practice. Thus he attempts to resolve the debates between different disciplinary groups in writing.  He also illustrates how certain research findings and pedagogical constructs in L2 writing can be adopted by other composition instructors to further a translingual orientation to writing. He concludes by demonstrating how policy level changes are being made by teachers in Education and Critical Applied linguistics, who are attuned to the translingual orientation in response to the Common Core State Standards.

We hope that this preview motivates you to read the whole article. We look forward to hearing your comments.

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